On the Religious Justification of Pacifism

The Pacifists who would justify their position from a religious point of view can only do so by distorting the divine message of the gospel: ‘My peace I give you, my peace I leave to you, not as the world gives it do I give it to you”, said Jesus (John 14:27), and also: “I have told you these things so that you find your peace in me. In the world you will have to suffer, but stand fast, I have vanquished the world” (John 16:33). These words state unequivocally that Christians must look for a peace that is spiritual and beyond anything the world can offer, and that such a peace must be found even at the cost of worldly suffering. Such a peace cannot be found at the expense of the Spirit, at the expense of the Truth, indeed it cannot be found outside of God, and it is the aim of all religion, of all spirituality.

The peace of pacifists is a caricature of even worldly peace, not to mention spiritual peace. How can the pacifists speak of preserving the peace when millions of men are enslaved by the inhuman and godless dictatorship of Communism? How can the pacifists speak of not endangering the peace of the world when the Afghans and the Poles are fighting for their freedom and their beliefs? Where indeed is the peace that the pacifists would safeguard? Is it to see nation after nation be smothered by Communism? Is it to witness communist subversion create turmoil and violence throughout the world? By refusing to accept the necessity to fight evil in the world, even at the cost of war, the pacifists close their eyes on the gradual destruction of spiritual values. To do so in the name of Christianity is to pervert the meaning of religion. The writings of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov, Anatoly Marchenko, Vladimir Bukovski, Robert Loh, and many other “dissenters” bear witness against those who disregard the monstrous iniquities of international Communism.

The claim of the pacifists that they are acting for the sake of the earth and its inhabitants stands in contradiction to Christian teachings: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul”, said Jesus (Matt. 10:28), and also: “Whoever wants to save his own life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it” (Matt. 16:25). These words clearly proclaim that it is not the life of the body which must be saved at all cost but the life of the spirit. The struggle of the Afghans and the Poles is a living example of the innate aspiration of men to safeguard freedom of spirit even at the cost of one’s life. Jesus offered his life and showed by his resurrection the pre-eminence of the Spirit. He did not hesitate to send his disciples toward persecution and death, teaching them that it is the Spirit which brings life, while the flesh is worthless. The life of Vladimir Bukovski is a magnificent example of a man who had the certainty and the inner evidence that his struggle for the truth against the oppressive government of the Soviet Union had a timeless and infinite value, even as he was repeatedly put in jail and in concentration camp.

Christians cannot in the name of their religion deny the primacy of the spirit over material life. To do so is simply to deny the central and essential message of any religion. If some, among those who have dedicated themselves to religious life, are so concerned with survival on earth that they can no longer point out the way to the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of the Spirit and of true Life and Peace, of what use are they? “If salt loses its savor with what shall it be salted?”

Having forgotten the central injunction of the gospel to look first for the Kingdom of Heaven, the pacifists also forget its most important corollary: “And everything else will be given to you besides”. They forget that it is God who controls and ordains everything in the life of individuals and of nations, and that God does not abandon those who trust in Him. They forget that the fate of the world is in the hands of God who created it and has also the power to destruct it — with atomic bombs or otherwise.

If Christians refuse to fight for the truth and for the freedom of the spirit they will achieve nothing either spiritually or materially, “For what will a man gain if he wins the whole world but loses his own soul?” (Matt. 16:26). To refuse to stand up for the truth out of fear for oneself or for others is to sell man’s most precious treasure at a cheap price. Such an attitude can in no way be justified in the name of Christianity for Jesus taught just the opposite.

Cardinal Mindszenty said the following words which he exemplified with his life: “For my part I regard love of truth as a bishop’s most important virtue which he must not part with out of fear or for praise or advantage, which in fact he must cling to even at the peril of his life. The liturgy of consecration also stresses that the bishop may in no circumstances pretend that the light is shadow and the shadow light, or call good bad and bad good.”

Together with other “peace” conferences, the World Conference of Religious Workers from Nuclear Catastrophe, sponsored by the Russian Orthodox Church, which is a puppet in the hands of the Soviet government (conference held in Moscow in the spring of ’82) should have opened the eyes of the more sincere among the pacifists as to who really inspires, sustains, and nourishes the “peace” movement while gaining the most from it. However the reactions of Billy Graham prove that self- delusion is indeed powerful. The famous story of The Emperor’s New Clothes has lost none of its significance.

Clinging desperately to this worldly life, which in any case is doomed to pass away, the pacifists are clamoring that they have lost their faith in God. They have the right to do so, but not in the name of Christianity.

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